Celtics star Jayson Tatum takes rare night off vs. Pistons

It takes a lot for Jayson Tatum to miss a game. It’s been admitted that the Celtics star will fight back whenever the organization suggests he takes a night off. But he had to relent on Monday night.

Tatum missed just his fourth game of the season on Monday against the Pistons, a night after he scored 30 points in 26 minutes of the Celtics’ win over the Wizards. He was officially listed out due to right ankle impingement, but the C’s are more likely just being cautious with their superstar – especially as Boston holds a significant lead in the standings with less than a month to go in the regular season.

The Celtics have routine conversations with Tatum about his workload and while they understand their star’s preference to play, they also want to make sure he’s at his best when it matters.

“Whatever’s best for the players and for the team at that particular time,” C’s coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Understanding and balancing that it’s a long season. We want to be playing at our best mentally and physically and emotionally at the right time. So it’s just kind of like every decision goes into that. …

“It’s everybody. Jayson, Jaylen (Brown), everybody. Jrue (Holiday), all those guys. That’s the pride they take in competing at a high level. I think that’s one of the underlying reasons for our success in the regular season. The guys are ready to compete at a high level. … But again, whatever’s best for them, whatever’s best for our team to make sure we’re playing the way we need to be playing at the right time. I think that’s kind of the way we look at it. I’m grateful to have guys that have that mindset.”

Tatum said after Sunday’s win in Washington that he wants to play as much as he can, especially at road games where fans only get to see him once or twice per season.

“I’ve been here seven years, they understand kind of what they’re dealing with,” Tatum said of his intention to play every night. “I don’t like to sit out. I understand if I was injured or whatever, but I’ve said it before, I just love to play the game, especially on the road. So many fans out there with Tatum 0 jerseys or came to see me play. So I kind of take pride in making sure I’m available as much as I can.”

Porzingis returns

Kristaps Porzingis, after a five-game absence due to a right hamstring strain, returned on Monday. Brown, who missed Sunday’s game with a right ankle sprain, was cleared to return. Derrick White, who was also out due to a left hand sprain, was back in the lineup. Payton Pritchard and Luke Kornet joined those three in the starting lineup.

Al Horford, who typically rests at least one night of a back-to-back, missed Monday’s game. Sam Hauser, who suffered a left ankle sprain during his historic shooting performance in Sunday’s win, was out. Mazzulla didn’t have a timeline for the forward’s return, but the Globe reported that his X-rays came back negative and he’s not expected to miss significant time. Hauser sat on the bench during Monday’s game.

Mazzulla continued to be confident in the rest of his team in the absence of Hauser, who has been one of the Celtics’ most reliable bench players this season.

“I think that’s the thing about this team is regardless of who’s been in and who’s out, guys have just filled roles,” Mazzulla said. “So, that’s the most important thing. It comes from everybody and that’s the job that each guy has, so regardless of who’s in and who’s out, play the system on both sides of the ball and compete at a high level and I think the guys have done a great job of doing that.”


For Monday’s Celtics game on NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics and Connecticut Sun joined for an all-female broadcast in celebration of women’s empowerment month. It included NBC Sports’ Zora Stephenson as the play-by-play voice, NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin and Connecticut Sun player DiJonai Carrington as game analysts, and ESPN’s Kayla Burton as the sideline reporter. NBC Sports Boston’s Amina Smith hosted the Celtics’ studio shows alongside Connecticut Sun team president Jennifer Rizzotti, and Boston Celtics scout and Maine Celtics assistant general manager Ashley Battle. …

Cade Cunningham (left knee) and Simone Fontecchio (left toe) both missed Monday’s game for the Pistons. … Former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was in attendance for Monday’s game, sitting courtside.

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